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The True Buddha School (真佛宗, Zhen Fo Zong) is a modern Vajrayana Buddhist sect with influence from Sutrayana, Taoism and some Shingon practices, based in Taiwanmarker.

Founded in the late 1980s, the founder of this sect is Lu Sheng-yen (盧勝彥), often referred to by his followers as a tulku, a Tibetan term for a reincarnated teacher or deity. He is called by his disciples as the Root Guru. Lu is a self-declared fully-enlightened buddha, known by his disciples as "Living Buddha Lian-sheng" (蓮生活佛). He is a writer who has written approximately 200 books to date (as of Jan 2008). As of 1995, the organization claims over 4 million people became Buddhists through Lu.

Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple in Redmond, Washington, the head temple of the TBS.


Teachings

Lu teaches that as a Buddhist in the True Buddha School, the necessity to cultivate diligently for the benefit of spiritual advancement is strongly emphasized, as is practiced in general Vajrayana Buddhism. A Tantric Buddhist practitioner cannot rely solely on listening or reading spiritual doctrines, or simply worshiping and paying respect to Buddhas and Bodhisattva statues as the method to achieve the goal of spiritual liberation. All students are expected to follow the fourteen Root Tantric Vows (known as Vajrayana samaya) along with the Five Precepts that all Buddhists should follow, and to respect their Root Guru.

There is a structured curriculum to guide the student's practice, and at each level, a specific yoga is practiced. To advance to the next level, the student must achieve yogic response from the yoga being practiced in the current level and receive empowerment for the yoga of the next level.

As a beginner, there are specific yogas that are practiced to establish a strong foundation. The yoga practiced in the first stage is the Vajrasattva yoga, a great repentance yoga to purify bad karma. The next level is the Guru Yoga, followed by the Personal Deity yoga and then the inner body practices of energy yoga.

Worldwide chapters

True Buddha School has chapters across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Latin America, though the size of each local chapter varies. The main temple is located in Redmond, Washingtonmarker, it also served as the main residence where Lu resided while he was living in United States. He lived in Tahiti with his wife Lian Hsiang in solitude for six years before re-emerging in the US in 2006, returning to his home in Redmond.

The majority of the followers of the True Buddha School are located in Asia, and many devotees are from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan. Across North America, Australia, and Europe, the majority of the students are immigrants of Asian decent.

True Buddha School's funding relies heavily on donations. This is supplemented with the income from the publication of Lu's books and videos of his sermons. The money is used to publish its teaching materials and for charity work such as the South Asian Tsunami relief effort. True Buddha School disseminates Buddhist teachings through Lu's sermons, books and articles. These materials are supplemented with sermons and articles by other acharyas (other gurus) certified by the grand master. Lu's books are published in Chinese, with a limited number currently being translated into English. However, more translations are slowly being made to reach a wider audience. Many of the major True Buddha School sadhanas (liturgies) and practices are available in English.

Criticism

The True Buddha School has, in recent times, been criticized by six major Buddhist organizations in Malaysia and many other Buddhist organizations in Taiwan and Hong Kong as a cult and as a breakaway from orthodox Buddhist teachings. Claims of the number of disciples have also been heavily questioned by Tibetan sources, as well as the founder's claim to have attained lineage from various Tibetan lineages. In 2002, Lu and his temple (Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple) were sued in Washington State by a former member who alleged sexual abuse on the part of Master Lu.

Notes

  1. Lu (1995), p. iii
  2. S.H.C., et al., v. Sheng-Yen Lu, et al., Respondents, 09/16/2002
  3. Anderson, Rick. Sex and the buddha in the Seattle Weekly, September 5, 2001.


References



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